Smith v Hughes 1871, Facts, Decision, Key Points

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This case is concerned with mistake in contract law

Facts of smith v hughes

There was a buyer who had purchased oats from the seller in the believe that these oats are the old oats. But in fact those oats were not old, they were new oats and were of no use to the  buyer. The buyer refused to accept the oats and declined to make the payment.

The seller sued the buyer for not making the payment


The jury went into the favour of the buyer

But the court of queens bench ordered a new trial because of thr mis-direction given to the jury by the trial judge.

The court of quuens bech said there must be a distinction made between two different types of case.

Key points to remember for smith v hughes

1- Where the buyer correctly understands the seller’s offer and the seller has made a mistake and that mistake is known to seller the seller is under no obligation to tell the buyer.

2- The seond situation is where the buyer is mistaken of the seller’s offer , so here the seller is under an obligation to tell the buyer the true nature of his offer

So after this the seller was not liable for  mistake as the buyer had the chance to ask him that were they old oats or new but he didn’t ask him and there was no discussion of the oats. So the seller was not under any obligation to tell him

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